Foundation News

Foundation co-hosts 2011 State of the Gulf of Mexico Summit
Dokken leads two days of event; Fikes moderates panel discussion

The Gulf of Mexico Foundation (GMF) co-hosted the State of the Gulf of Mexico Summit and supported it financially at the platinum level. Held in Houston December 4-8, the Summit's impressive list of speakers included EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, Oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle, former first lady Laura Bush and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s CEO Dr. Alan Thornhill.

Gulf of Mexico Foundation President/CEO Dr. Quenton Dokken facilitated two days of sessions during the State of the Gulf of Mexico Summit.

The 2011 Summit was a sequel to the first Gulf Summit held in 2006, in which GMF also played a key role. The 2011 Summit was committed to preserving the ecological and economic integrity of the Gulf of Mexico. A recurring theme was recovery efforts and research being conducted in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in April 2010.

At the Summit, President/CEO Dr. Quenton Dokken moderated a panel discussion called "Partnerships for a Sustainable Gulf of Mexico" and gave two presentations focusing on the Gulf's future. GMF Deputy Director Ryan Fikes moderated a panel discussion on conservation and restoration in the Gulf of Mexico.

"The Foundation's active role in the Summit  highlighted the GMF as being a key player in Gulf conservation and restoration," Fikes said. Dokken announced the Foundation's plans to build a state-of-the-art Habitat Restoration Technology Center in Galveston next year, which will provide training to improve the art and practice of habitat restoration. GMF Program Manager Mikell Smith met informally with various participants who are well-positioned to collaborate as programming for the Center is developed.


Conservation & Restoration

Health of the Gulf determines focus of Summit discussions
Four-day gathering brings scientific experts, decision makers together

The State of the Gulf of Mexico Summit held in Houston this month provided an ideal venue for discussing recent developments affecting the health of the Gulf. Participating in the four-day gathering were about 400 top leaders representing government, industry, science and nonprofit organizations, many whose primary focus is on the Gulf of Mexico.

Gulf of Mexico Regional Ecosystem Restoration Strategy (PDF 4.6MB)

The Summit's opening day on December 5 began with EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announcing the release of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force's Final Report, which outlines a strategy for long-term recovery of  the Gulf of Mexico following the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. “This document will help guide and support much of the work that we will do over the coming years,” said Ryan Fikes, Deputy Director for the Gulf of Mexico Foundation. Fikes oversees the GMF’s Community-based Restoration Partnership.

Another topic of discussion during the Summit was the "Restore the Gulf Coast Act of 2011," which would dedicate – specifically to restoration along the Gulf coast – 80 percent of the penalties to be assessed against BP as a result of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. If passed, this legislation would make an estimated $5 to 20 billion available for the kind of large-scale restoration projects long needed to reverse decline of coastal habitat and land loss in the Gulf region. The Restore Act will most likely be included in the suite of appropriation bills that Congress will vote on before the holiday recess.

On the third day of the Summit, a team of experts rolled out the framework for a "Report Card" for the Gulf of Mexico, a concept being developed by a team led by the Harte Research Institute to measure the health of the Gulf of Mexico. This ecosystem-wide Report Card will demonstrate scientifically how well the Gulf is or is not progressing towards desired long-term goals. The Report Card will ultimately be used to inform decision makers in managing for a healthy Gulf of Mexico ecosystem.


Education & Training

Conference empowers students to become leaders, stewards
Event kicks off new Multicultural Education Program with hands-on learning

Middle school students participate in a scientific experiment demonstrating the effects of ocean acidification on corals and shelled animals.

The Gulf of Mexico Foundation (GMF) hosted its annual Youth Leadership & Stewardship Conference themed "It's All About Habitat" for about 100 middle school and high school students and their teachers on December 10 at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.

The event kicked off GMF's new Multicultural Education Program and gave students hands-on experience in learning about some of the local area's habitats such as wetlands, oyster beds and coral reefs. "This is one way GMF is empowering our youth with resources and education so they can start making a difference today," said GMF Program Manager Suraida Nañez-James. During the all-day event, students and their teachers tromped along mucky shorelines, conducted scientific experiments and learned from local scientists about an oyster shell recycling project being conducting nearby, shark tagging and wetlands ecology.

Throughout the day, each group of students received activity sets that they stored in a large plastic tote called a "Habitat Trunk," which they would bring back to their classrooms. The students will use the trunks to help educate their peers, family members and the community about the importance of our coastal habitats.


Making A Difference

Restore America's Estuaries plans October conference
GMF involved with planning, coordination and sponsorship of event

Restore America’s Estuaries (RAE) is seeking proposals for its 6th National Conference on Coastal and Estuarine Habitat Restoration to be held October 20-24, 2012, in Tampa, Florida. The conference’s theme will be “Restoring Ecosystems, Strengthening Communities.” Submittal deadline for dedicated sessions, presentations and posters focusing on all aspects of coastal and estuarine habitat restoration is February 1, 2012. Registration for the event is open to the public.

The Conference will bring attention to the challenges and opportunities for restoration and will bring together a unique blend of people who are involved in policy, science, strategy, business and on-the-ground restoration. Previous years' conferences have been attended by more than 5,200 people.

The Gulf of Mexico Foundation (GMF) will be taking a lead role in the 2012 conference with several staff members participating. GMF Deputy Director Ryan Fikes sits on RAE's National Program Committee, which will decide which proposals are selected to be presented at the conference this spring in Tampa.

GMF is an Executive Sponsor of the 2012 conference and has been working with RAE on another project this year – helping to outline the strategy for a new federal program being developed called the Coastal Restoration Corps (CRC) that aims to put people to work restoring coastal and estuarine habitats. GMF President/CEO Dr. Quenton Dokken is the Gulf of Mexico delegate on the CRC's steering committee made up of 45 leaders and experts.


Gulf of Mexico Foundation

Gulf of Mexico Foundation   |   PMB 51, 5403 Everhart   |   Corpus Christi, TX 78411
(800) 884-4175 toll free   |   (361) 882-3939 phone   |   (361) 882-1262 fax   |   e-mail:

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